Sheila of To Love Honor and Vacuum has a great point in her recent Compensating for Something post. She was talking about parenting, but I think the idea goes way beyond the realm of parenting.
Have you ever caught yourself being a counter weight to your wife? She is going rather far in one direction on something, so you go the other way to balance things out. I think doing this is a basic instinct for many of us. When someone is out of the norm, or moving strongly in any direction, it makes us uncomfortable. The “easy” solution is to try to balance things out by pushing the other way.
- First question: Does this work? Maybe if there is a third-party involved it makes them feel better, but given human nature I suspect it results in our spouse moving even further towards the direction they have already gone; they counter the attempt to balance things by moving away.
- Second question: Is it a bad knee jerk reaction? If we try to balance for no other reason than balance, we are reacting without thinking, which rarely ends well.
- Third question: Does it cause marital problems? If she reacts by moving away from your balancing move, you are creating a growing difference, and maybe a fight. If either of you routinely plays counter balance, the other may take it as a personal slight.
My suggestion is to react to a desire to be a counter balance by stopping and thinking through the situation. If you feel she is out of balance, discuss it. Take the right stand, the stand you would take no matter what your wife thought, and stick with it.